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Roma child case transfer

London Borough of Barking & Dagenham v C & Others [2014] EWHC 2472

Miles & Partners represented a Roma father (F) who succeeded in his application to have care proceedings relating to his 10 month old son (A) transferred from the English courts to the Romanian authorities.

Born in England to unmarried Romanian, Roma parents, A was taken into care soon after his birth, while his father was in prison, when local authority assessments deemed his mother unable to care for him in a way acceptable within this country and culture.

After his release, F presented himself as A’s carer. He told the court that he would return to Romania where he would care for A, supported by his family and argued that it should be for the Romanian authorities to assess his ability to care for his Romanian child. A’s mother supported this request and the local authority in England could not identify any drawbacks to transferring the case. However, A’s guardian provided a considered counter argument.

Although the Romanian authorities were unclear whether they would assume jurisdiction, they were clear that should adoption through the English system be actively considered, they would be highly likely to request A’s repatriation.

The judge faced two contentious issues which he addressed with the assistance of a “pros and cons” list: whether the case would be better heard by the Romanian authorities and whether A would require state charitable or voluntary sector intervention.

Allowing F’s assessment to run alongside the request for transfer would hasten a conclusion. The worst outcome for A would be if F failed his assessment in England and adoption was proposed, leading the Romanian authorities to request A’s repatriation. Since it could not be predicted whether there might be more delays in England or Romania, timeframe did not tip the balance either way.

The judge considered that F could best litigate in Romania, that the Romanian authorities could most properly assess, by Romanian standards, F’s ability to care for A, what appropriate support or alternative care arrangements might be in A’s best interest and concluded that a request must be made of the Romanian authorities to accept the case.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.